What is the creature's reaction to Paradise Lost? According to the creature, how is he both similar and different from Adam?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

During a period of rather calm and reflective isolation, the creature finds some books and eagerly reads them. He connects most with Paradise Lost , reading it as a "true history." His similarities to Adam evoke a strong emotional response; he realizes that both he and Adam were created as...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

During a period of rather calm and reflective isolation, the creature finds some books and eagerly reads them. He connects most with Paradise Lost, reading it as a "true history." His similarities to Adam evoke a strong emotional response; he realizes that both he and Adam were created as original beings—not born from a womb, as are all other human creations. Therefore, they are both isolated, connected biologically to no other people on Earth. This is where the similarities end; Adam's Creator formed him in love and guided him, carefully helping Adam to make moral decisions. God conversed with Adam, providing both companionship and an encouraging relationship, always ready to explain the ways of an unknown world.

In contrast, the creature sees himself as isolated from his creator. He has received no guidance and has been left to try to understand a harsh world on his own. There has been no relationship with his creator, though he has longed to form such a connection.

Because of his feelings of isolation, the creature aligns himself more with Satan than Adam. In chapter 15, he explains how feelings of isolation drive this connection, yet he believes that even Satan is more fortunate than he:

Why did you form a monster so hideous that even YOU turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred.

Nevertheless, in chapter 24, the creature looks around at all the lives he has ended and reflects upon his motive:

Evil thenceforth became my good.

The creature is quoting Paradise Lost here, further aligning himself with the plight of Satan; both see their creators as deserving of vengeance.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Paradise Lost is key not only to the creature's understanding of his situation, but also to Mary Shelley's: her epigraph to Frankenstein is taken from Milton's epic. Specifically, she quotes the moment when Adam, having eaten from the tree of knowledge and fallen from grace, laments that God ever created him:

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? (book 10, 743–745)

This, then, is the first and perhaps most important point of similarity between the creature and Adam; like Adam, Frankenstein's creature feels that his very creation was unjust, since he was only ever destined to suffer. Relatedly, just as Adam and Eve are banished from Eden (and thus God's presence) as a result of their transgression, the creature feels he has been spurned by his creator—Frankenstein himself. Implicit in both Adam's words here and the creature's story is the idea that creating life entails taking responsibility for that life.

In many respects, however, the creature actually considers himself worse off than Adam. Although Adam was, like the creature, the first of his kind and "united by no link to any other being in existence," God eventually did create a companion for his creation—something the creature begs Frankenstein to do for him as well (chapter 15). Frankenstein refuses, which in turn underscores another difference between the two works: Frankenstein, unlike the Abrahamic understanding of God, is flawed. Far from being able to foresee the consequences of refusing the creature, Frankenstein couldn't even foresee the consequences of creating him to begin with, or of abandoning him when he realized how disgusted he was by his creation. Figuratively speaking, it's perhaps because his own maker is fallible that the creature ends up being, as he puts it, "a filthy type" rather than "beautiful and alluring" like Adam and Eve; like Adam, the creature is made "in the image" of his creator, but the creature's maker isn't God, but simply an imperfect human man (chapter 15).

All in all, then, the creature's relationship to Paradise Lost is complex. Aspects of Adam's story (e.g., his initial loneliness, his anger at and "rejection" by God) resonate with the creature. At the same time, however, he envies Adam for having Eve's companionship as well as for having ever enjoyed a relationship with his maker; Adam loses his immediate connection to God as a result of his own actions, but Frankenstein abandons the creature before the latter has even had a chance to "sin." For these reasons, the creature says he sometimes feels "Satan [is] the fitter emblem of [his] condition," because he fiercely resents the happiness he feels he is permanently barred from (chapter 15).

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In his reading of Paradise Lost, the creature discovers the concept of creation.  He comes to know that God created Adam ... and gave him Eve so that he would not be alone.  Because the creature is not a creation of God, at least not in the sense that Victor is God's creature, he does not have the same relationship to God.  Instead, he sees Victor as his God, his Father, his Creator.  Unlike the creations of the "real" God, the creature sees himself as the one, the alone, created but not loved.  His life is miserable, as would the life of the original Adam have been; so he asks for the same solution that God provided for Adam --- a partner, someone who could love him, someone he would share his life with so that he would not be so totally alone.  Here the creature's story differs from PL.  Victor starts creating a mate for him, then stops, leaving the creature totally alone, alone to wreck havoc on a world that does not love him, and in which he will never be allowed to find love.

Remember that I am thy creature;
I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou
drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I
alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made
me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team